A tray ceiling is an architectural ceiling feature that is either inverted or recessed. Tray ceilings can be plain, ornate, subtle or dramatic. Lighting is commonly featured in this design. The recess may have rounded, stepped, slanted or vertical sides. The basic purpose of a tray ceiling is to break up an ordinary flat ceiling line and add a variation in height to create architectural interest. Unlike a cove ceiling, where the “cove” begins at the top of the walls of the room, the “tray” is set in from the walls.

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